We throw a lot of love out to small businesses here. Technology is fun and all, but for small business owners it’s all about useful and practical. We don’t have time to experiment and play, we have to get down to business. I deal with a lot of very small businesses and new ones that are starting up. Some people have a hobby on the side and it is moving further along into a large chunk of a person’s life. Because of this when reading this Lifehacker article on an independent one-person startup I thought it’s worth sharing.
There are many ways a business gets started. In my case I sat and wrote a formal business plan, had a team of business students refine and test it. I then recruited partners and launched with nothing but personal savings. On my second business I was naturally pulled into getting started because of a contractor that was no longer available because the outsourcing company shut down. One of my choices included taking over the pieces in a distant country and renting an office then start soliciting new business.
When it comes to these small one or two persons starting up without a customer it is a frightening prospect. Your personal life is inextricably linked to you business. Don’t ignore this fact it is a part of small business life. This means get your partner to buy-in and prepare yourselves. Keep costs low and do your research. One of the things In this blog I strive to show that most things can be done well either free or at a very low-cost. What it takes is knowledge and a little skill. You also need to know when cheap options end up costing you money.
You have to balance productivity and opportunity against cost. When I travel I keep travel costs low. Your customer won’t see how much you pay for your flight. If a hotel won’t be visited or seen I will go very inexpensive. However, at a trade show the high-end hotel is a must. You can’t be seen coming from a Motel 6 into a fancy conference center. Even if people don’t see you they will ask, trust me it’s a common topic of conference conversations. For a local office I rent space at a place that will have a front receptionist and a shared conference room and offices. But I only use it about one time per year so I only pay for a few days. The rest of the time either work at home or work in a coworking space like in the above article.
One great advantage of the internet is the ability to get advice from a range of people who have experienced what you are going through. This is your hobby now. When you are not doing direct work relax by reading articles and blogs about the things that will help you in your business. When you find something you like then poke at it a little and see if you can benefit but keep this your hobby. Don’t get distracted from your main goal of growing your business. You will know when something is useful when you read and it ties directly to a very painful point that you have in your work.